is a skill to be nurtured.
A good vacation doesn't just happen to you. Preparation helps a lot
to ensure the best return on your investment of time and money.
- Check the expiry
date on your passport as soon as you decide to travel. Some
countries won't let you in if you're traveling within 6 months of
the expiry date.
pack and carry 2 - 3 days worth of essentials like underwear,
bathing suit, change of clothes, toiletries, medication etc in your
carry-on luggage. That way you can manage and start your vacation
immediately if your baggage is delayed or lost. This is one of the
best things my mom ever advised me to do!
- Buy a portable
HEYS has a great lightweight one that calculates up to 100kg.( $32).
It's got a hook and a handle. I got it in red for quick find in my
suitcase. Bring it with you for managing your overseas shopping and
making check-in easy and inexpensive.
- Check weight allowance
for carry-on for all your connecting flights. Air Canada
allowed me 10kg but my connecting Singapore Airline only allowed 7kg.
I had to check it after my Hong Kong stopover when continuing my flight
the next day on Singapore.
a designated travel toiletry bag always ready to go
with small portions of essentials if you go away frequently, even
to a cottage. You'll be amazed at how much time you save packing if
this detail is ready in advance. Top up your containers when you get
home so that there are no surprises next time you grab this bag.
- Only have 100ml
or less containers for your carry-on toiletries. My 120ml
sunscreen was confiscated in Hong Kong security at the time this rule
was newly installed internationally. Have them in a clear plastic
bag ready for inspection. You're only allowed a total of 1 litre carry-on
Along with photos it's a great way to record the treasures of details
that make up a journey. It's also a great place to pour out your feelings
about situations that may not be ideal or that changed your life.
a little about the place you are headed. It will help with
realistic expectations. And check out tripadvisor.com or other sites
for comments other travelers made going there or to your hotel.
- Bring photos or
postcards from home to share with
the natives of the land you're visiting. Especially of animals and
weather not found there. Most people especially children are interested
to see your family and where you come from.
to keep prohibited things like small Swiss Army knives in
your checked luggage. Even when you use the item, return it to your
luggage so that you don't get stopped and lose it at security because
you forgot to check it on your way home.
always need less than you think. Pack some of your favourite
outfits that you'll really enjoy and plan for shifts in weather with
layers. Fleece is great for warmth and is lightweight. Leave your
favourite jewelry at home.
- Think about what
you'd like to wear several days before leaving. Laundry may
need to be done.
lists- things to do and what to bring
is invaluable. You continually revise as you improve your travel skills-
I've been working on mine for years in preparation for my 7-8 weeks
in Bali each winter. The last thing I added that made my recent trip
prep nearly stress free was creating a time line on my tasks. For
example: if you need a visa or a new passport, this is something to
get several weeks before your departure date. Suspending car insurance
can be arranged a few days before leaving- leave yourself a note to
activate it again when you return home!. Writing notes to neighbours
who are taking care of pets or mail etc. will easier if not left to
the last minute. If there's lots to do, break it down week by week
or day by day to do as a schedule to follow. Stress gone!
- Include the obvious
on your list.
Like taking out the garbage before leaving. Or bringing your passport
and flight itinerary. And taking your travel food from the fridge.
It's something you don't need to keep in your head if it's on paper.
Keep a pen beside your printed out list because additional things
will come to mind- jot them down immediately.
- Shop for toiletries,
luggage and travel clothes at least a week before leaving.
I know people who were out buying luggage the day of the fight and
were so frazzled.
- Only focus on
what you are doing right now. The list will take care of
everything waiting to be done. It's the only way to avoid feeling
overwhelmed when there's lots to do. If you aren't going to do it
now, then stop thinking about it and focus on what you ARE doing right
now. This is the best new travel skill I'm mastering.
- Pack an extra
lightweight tote bag for shopping trips and the beach.
your credit card provider
when you are traveling abroad to ensure you don't have any interruption
in your ability to use your card- they will suspend it until they
contact you if there's unusual activity.
- Packing usually
takes longer than you expect -
finding stuff, ironing, mending, organizing. Start at least 24 hours
in advance. Recently Laila was mostly packed two days before flying
out, finishing the toiletries and misc stuff the day before flying.
That left the whole flight day free and clear for unexpected things
and relaxing including having a bath before the night flight. It was
amazing to be this ready for a 2 month absence. The less frazzled
you are beforehand the sooner you feel you are on vacation.
Economy: Aisle seats in the centre section are great for long flights
(when seat configuration is in 3's) because you only need to get up
for one person in the middle seat. There's also more of a chance the
two seats beside you are taken by people traveling together which
means you don't ever have to get up. This is a great advantage on
long flights. Pay to ensure you get the seat you want.
- Separate your
carry on into what you don't need- stored overhead- like
your 3 days of clothing, and put what you need during the flight in
a tote bag at your feet.
the plane I ensure most of my needs are met ahead of time.
I cook my meals like pasta, grilled chicken, salad, fruit( except
to US), carrots and cherry tomatoes are refreshing, nuts and sweets
like cookies, and store them in tupperware. That way if I don't like
what's being served on a long international flight I've got options.
It also frees me to eat and sleep whenever I want. You can't enter
a foreign country with food so throw away anything unfinished on the
plane. ( You can reuse containers on the way home with food purchased
at the airport or favourite restaurant the day you return home.)
carry inflatable pillow, ear plugs and eye mask on all flights.
- Best investment
I made for long haul travel was Noise Cancelling head phones.
Get a good set. It removes a lot of the plane engine white noise out
of your experience while resting or enjoying movies. They
need a cushion at the crown of the headband. Remember the small adaptor
for arm rest plug in for movies.
- Bring along a
fully charged Ipod
or other portable music device
with the harsh soaps in the toilets. Lip balm helps with the dry air.
Throat lozenges just in case.
pens nearby, as well as tissue or wet towels.
like to have a silk scarf and woven shawl for portable warmth.
The shawl can be used as a blanket.
vest can be more comfortable than a jacket when planes have
you are a women with hot flashes,
layers over a tank top is a good way to go for quick ventilation through
your bare shoulders.
loose cotton clothing like
yoga pants, socks and Crocs for easy access. NEVER walk around an
airplane in your stocking feet.
something to boost your immune system a
few days before flying and throughout your time away if
you've been very busy before hand or are prone to catching bugs.
is essential to your well being, on the plane and off.
Buy a litre of water after security. Then have an empty water bottle
on hand that the plane staff fill as you request. Carrying a water
bottle keeps you independent and hydrated between naps.
water bottle comes in handy
while traveling and it's a greener way to visit a country than continually
buying and tossing plastic. Plastic water bottles have unimagined
impact on the environment and a small way to help is finding a place
to refill a water container.
credit cards give you 2 weeks travel health insurance coverage automatically.
Check to see if you are covered in your plan.
traveling to foreign countries with US dollars,
make sure you've got bills printed after 2003. Bali will not accept
bills before this date due to counterfeit troubles in the past.
business cards on
you for new people you meet on the plane and on land.
small lined notebook comes in handy
when getting other people's contact info, directions and travel referrals
along the way. It's also a good place to jot down the things you wish
you'd packed to add to your list for next time!
your important documents and cash on your body in
a small purse that crosses your chest not just over your shoulder.
You can also use a money belt.
count your cash in public when you are putting away an ATM
withdrawal. Don't pull out all your cash when you are paying for something.
your cash organized for daily use
before you leave your hotel and leave the majority
safely out of sight. This is as much a courtesy as it is safety tip
when visiting poorer countries.
- Become familiar
with foreign currency in your hotel room.
your traveling companions wisely. It helps a lot when you
are compatible in spending money, flexibility in itinerary, energy
level, temperment, interests, and common courtesy of thoughtfulness
- like not hogging the bathroom for hours, or being noisy when returning
to a room housing a sleeping roommate.
traveling alone if you can't find someone with whom you are
confident you can get along most of the time. You'll be amazed
at how easily you'll find people to eat with and share excursions.
- Speak slowly and
Remember when you're not at home, YOU are the one with the accent.
If you are not understood try using other words that mean the same
thing. I asked a Balinese woman about the weight of a rock but wasn't
understood until I pointed to it and she called it a stone.
- Everyone wants
successful communication. Keep it simple. You'd
be amazed at how many colloquial terms you unconsciously use in everyday
- Make sure your
contact information is accurate and email it along with your
itinerary to family and/or friends. The phone number I left for my
Mediterranean cruise turned out to be inaccurate when my family in
Toronto tried to notify me that my mother
was dying. Urgent efforts required to finally reach me made the
tragic situation more difficult.
up to you to have a good time- no matter what happens.
Your attitude and how you feel about what you experience is the only
thing you can control.
to accept and work with unexpected situations.
Practice patience with delays, disappointments and people speaking
- Remember that
you are a guest of the country and its residents whenever
you travel. Leave your entitlement at home.
- Pack curiosity
in your pocket. It's the most advantageous travel companion.
Curiosity helps bridge differences in culture and behaviour. You'll
feel much better being curious about something rather than complaining.
Tolle advises not to resist 'what is'.
That's the best travel advise to follow.
This is by no means a complete
set of traveling tips. Hopefully it helps. Written by Aziza Healing
Adventures founder,and solo world traveler, Laila
Ghattas. She applies the same thorough attention to detail when
leading AHA retreats.